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Saturday, May 27, 2006

Capitol-sized Pain in the Ass

I live about a block from the now-infamous Rayburn building on Capitol Hill. I work on "Embassy Row."

Of course I was initially enthralled yesterday by the reports of gun fire and the lock-down of the Capitol. But it did not take long before I'd realized the whole thing was--if not a hoax--definitely a mistake.

There is no shortage of security forces on Capitol Hill. And they are all looking for something to do. From the cop standing on the corner yelling at people who cross the street against the light--("You can't cross!" "Sorry!" "Sorry'll getcha killed!")--to the cops picking up drunk Kennedys off the Capitol steps, to those getting beat on by angry black Congresswomen . . .

They all want something to do, they all want a story they can tell over dinner.

How would this sound to you:

"How was your day, hunny?"

"Fantastic. I stood in the same place for 10 hours today. Holding a machine gun. All I did was watch tourists, staffers, and Congressmen pass me by without notice. Oh, wait, that's not quite true. There was the group from Arkansas that thought I was supposed to be like one of those Royal British guards and not move and stood around taking pictures making faces at me. I don't think they were so happy when I did move, though, and ruined their picture . . ."

BUT, lets say his response was something like this--

"AWESOME!! I finally got to put my training to good use!! I heard shots fired and immediately responded to find a jerk-off with a piss-ant little handgun hiding behind that jack-ass Congressman's BMW--you know, the one that turned me in last month for not calling him "sir"--and I took out BOTH the piss-ant gunman AND the BMW. It was totally sweet!!!!"

Sounds much better, right?

So then if shots were fired yesterday--real shots--then which Capitol police officer heard it and responded and could confirm there was actually gunfire?

None, right? Not really.

So, c'mon, we all knew it was a hoax. But, hey, as long as no one got injured what's the problem. And that same Capitol Police officer got to go home to dinner last night and answer the same question with . . .

"My day was great! We got to lock all of the Congressmen in their offices while we played a few hands of Texas Hold 'Em in the basement . . . It was totally sweet!!"

Friday, May 26, 2006

Yet Providing Still More Proof

There is this girl--no one is quite sure who she is or where she comes from--that insists on spending her free time here. She just shows up. For no apparent reason, even. There will come a knock at the door and one of my many roommates will let her in.

Do they know her? No! But she'll walk right in and have a seat beside us watching t.v. Then she will join right in the conversation as if she has always belonged.

And one of her favorite pasttimes is, I have come to learn, sticking her foot in her mouth.

Yesterday she shows up and tells us she has just turned 21 and is looking for someone to go happy-hour-hopping with her. She looks to one of my fellow male roommates. We will call him Pacey because he faintly resembles the character.

So she directs this question in Pacey's direction. And Pacey shrugs . . .

[Pacey]: Ehhhhh. I'm kinda just a boring guy and don't like to go out much.

[Foot-in-Mouth Girl]: Oh? Are you the guy law student I've heard about?

At this point I am sitting at the other end of the table, and I chime in:

[Mr. Misery]: Nope! That would probably be me--the boring law student. I am so glad my reputation precedes me.

If you ever required more proof that Law School makes you boring . . .

There it is right there.

Growing Up Hippie

Yesterday one of the attorneys walked into my office and spotted the Tom Wolfe book sitting on my desk . . .

Attorney: Hey, which one of his is that??

Mr. Misery: I Am Charlotte Simmons.

Attorney: Ah. I didn't recognize the cover. Is it good?

Mr. Misery: Yeah. Very. I haven't attempted a Tom Wolfe book since I tried reading The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.

Attorney: That is a little before your time, isn't it?

Mr. Misery: Yeah. A little. My mom gave it to me when I was a teenager.

Attorney: It sounds like your mom was a little Beatnik--naming you after [60's singer] and reading The Electrict Kool-Aid Acid Test.

Mr. Misery: Yes. She was. A few years ago I went on a "Canterbury Tales" type journey with her to see Janis Joplin's hometown and museum. Very beat.

Attorney: Okay. So with your mom being such a flower child . . . how did you end up here, uh, working for us?

Mr. Misery: Well, my mom was a hippie. How else could I rebel but become a conservative instead?

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Don't Mess With Texas

Outside of our "house" here in D.C. is a courtyard. In this courtyard tonight they are having a party. The person hosting the party owns the building from which we lease this glorious palace . . .

And so some freakin' Einstein runs an extension cord in through our window, through our kitchen sink, and plugs it in on the other side of the cabinet.


But what makes it worse, is that the cord is being used to plug in a band. A band of old men. Old white men. Who think they can rock. And they clearly don't.

He was trying to sing "Amarillo By Morning." And it was very very sad.

Just when I thought I'd reached my breaking point, and decided I'd go have a talk with the lead singer and ask him to please stop slaughtering my culture with his awful rendition of my homeland's music . . .

I walked outside . . . and straight into a Secret Service Agent.

I think my breaking point will have to put up with this blasphemy tonight.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Okay, 'Stros Fans . . .

They embarrased themselves tonight . . .

Losing to the freakin' Nationals like that -- what were they thinking??

This is RFK Stadium, the aging home of the Capital's boys of summer.

As for my time in D.C., there hasn't been too much to report. I've been far too busy to make an attempt at stretching any of my day-to-day experiences into some semi-humorous post for this blog's benefit.

But I can say this . . .

I you like Law School and its ego-maniacal brand of groupies prancing around proclaiming how great they are and how sad the rest of the world must be in comparison . . .

Wow, you will love D.C. I freakin' guarantee it.

The problem is -- D.C. is a sleeping city. It is like white-washed tombs. I completely understand the battle cry of D.C.-ites: "Taxation Without Representation." It is on their license plates.

It is a city built and run by 9-to-5ers. When they day is gone, they are too . . . escaping to their homes in the suburbs.

If you want to see the real D.C., you'll find it on the weekends away from the tourists that take the 9-to-5ers place.

And I constantly here, "Don't go to such-and-such a place, its not safe, just look at the people there." And I am sure there is some truth, maybe a lot of truth, to what they are saying.

But so far, some of the nicest people I've met outside of Texas are the real D.C.-ites that call the city home every day. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Stupid !*$#@!% Tourists

Mrs. Misery flew in last night to Baltimore/Washington International (BWI).

For those who don't know, D.C. is serviced by three airports (Reagan, Dulles, BWI). But of the three, BWI is by far the cheapest to fly into when traveling to D.C., and it is about the same distance from D.C. as Dulles.

But, still, it is a good 35 miles away.

Now you can make this trip by Metro taking a bus from the airport to the Greenbelt station, OR you can travel by Amtrak, OR you take the MARC train.

None of which were running last night when she arrived, so we initially decided to rent a car.

But, after arguing with the rental car company over their fees--and given that I did not want to drive anyways--we changed our mind and went in search of a taxi.

Around here it is, I believe, a federal crime for a Maryland cabbie to take a fare into D.C. . .

I mean, this is protected turf. Right?

So we're looking for the taxi cab stand when this guy asks if we need a taxi . . .

Well, sure, of course we do!

Little did I know, the guy wasn't driving a taxi but a sedan. (For those who dont' know, that's somewhere in between a taxi and a limo).

And by the time I arrived at the steps of the Capitol, the price was far far more than I'd anticipated.

How much, you ask, did I pay for this sedan ride?

With tip, $85.

Yes, eighty-five.

And it was still much cheaper than renting a car.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Contrary to Popular Opinion

I am not dead.

I am in Washington, D.C., instead.

And I had to call the Solicitor General today. The Solicitor General. As if it was nothing.

This is a strange, strange city . . .

[And if you will keep checking back, I will begin posting on my life here in the Big -- uh, uhm -- Something as soon as I catch up with the pace of things here.]

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Good Times, Good Times

How I celebrated after taking my last final:

1. Changed the description of my blog to a "'somewhat anonymous' 3L at Texas Tech . . ."

2. Burned my Wills & Trusts outline while singing, "And its one, two, three, what are we workin' for/Don't ask me I don't give a damn, another year and I'll be 'the man' . . ."

3. Made a paddle in woodshop and then started cruising campus looking for pre-Ls to initiate. But then after an hour I realized that if they actually want to be in law school, they might actually enjoy the pain . . . and it kind of lost its novelty to me after that. (And its just not as much fun without O'Bannion around). But I do have this cool paddle still, so its all good . . .

. . . And its five, six, seven I'll be the man you all love to hate/ But there ain't no time to stop and cry, eww eee, those damned loans are high!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Four Days

Four days from today I will arive in Washington, D.C. where,

after an initiation involving ping pong balls, a bucket, peanut butter, leather chaps, a 2 wood, and the polluted Potomac River

(and that's all just for the President's enjoyment),

I will come one step closer to being a "real lawyer". Well, for 3 months, then its back for one more year of law school before going to work for good.

But I hear the initiation is far less brutal the second time around . . .

Monday, May 08, 2006

Ingrid's Bookstore

During the course of a conversation I was having with Anonymous Law Student the other day, I began to reminisce about living as a teenager in Lawton, Oklahoma.

(Well, "reminisce" may be a bit inaccurate. After all, doesn't that denote actually missing something? And I can hardly claim to miss it . . .)

But I had seized upon the memory of a used book I bought on a slow Friday night in the bustling metropolis of my childhood . . .

The book was The Subteraneans by Jack Kerouac. It was one of those books that is better purchased as a used paperback, that you can fold up and stick in your back pocket. But it is not the book itself that has been seared into my memory . . .

No, it is the establishment from which it was purchased that I will never forget. It was the circumstances surrounding the purchase that would certainly have made Kerouac himself gleefully appreciate the bohemian nature of it all.

Life in Lawton was probably--for all my complaints--as typical as life is for any teenager in any community of its size. If you didn't "cruise" or have the means and access to drink every evening, you had to be creative with your entertainment.

I am unsure which of my friends knew about Ingrid's Bookstore, or made the decision to visit in the first place, but I do remember the four of us--myself, Genius Friend, "DJ McNastee", and Braveheart--loading up Genius Friend's little white Dodge Neon and heading off to this fantastic world of . . .

. . . well, porn, of course.

Ingrid's was located in a declining strip mall that I think mainly consisted of empty storefronts bookended by Ingrid's on one side and a skanky dance club dive on the other. On the weekends during the evenings, guard was kept by a Hell's Angel-looking type that sat out front of the dirty glass door in a metal folding chair.

"Gotta see your I.D.s fellas before you go in," he'd said. And after fumbling with our wallets in a hurried effort to find ourselves approved, he opened the door and let us through.

The best way I can describe Ingrid's is: it was most definitely suffering from some sort of bi-polar disorder.

As we entered, the first sensation that slapped us in the face was the semi-sweet, musty aroma pervading the store. It was certainly not your typical retail establishment. And, although the store was as dimly lit as a junior high make-out session occurring in someone's un-parented basement, we could still see the faded carpeting was badly water stained in areas near the wood-paneled walls.

When you enter Ingrid's, you find yourself in a small room crowded with old metal shelves and book racks of varying sizes and colors. On the left the wall runs right up to a circular counter-slash-dusty and clouded glass display case. It is this wall and glass counter that divide the store into its dual personalities . . .

On the metal shelves and racks were a selection of books. All used, these were just plain books--mostly paperbacks--but they were not what most would consider trash. Ingrid had used copies of Catcher in the Rye, the Grapes of Wrath, Jack Kerouac, Shakespeare, Tom Wolfe, Dickens, and lots of Louis L'Amour. All decent books.

Many of these books were the kind, like I said, that you'd fold up and carry with you in your back pocket, reading them over and over again.

We spent at least 20 minutes during that first visit leafing through these books and only occasionally looking up to peer around the wall that divided the store. But after we'd worked up enough courage--with Braveheart leading the way--we eventually wandered over to the other side that makes up Ingrid's (and most certainly keeps the doors open).

There was the porn. And "adult novelty items."

And she had quite a collection. I think Ingrid must have been particularly fond of the magazine Barely Legal (not the blawg), because she must have had a copy of every edition since its first printing. In fact, she had copies of magazines I am still baffled to this day that they exist--or existed.

If you had a fetish, Ingrid's did too.

That was where I first realized--as if struck by lightening--that gay men do get old.

And, as if its not gross enough thinking about a sixty-five-year-old man and woman getting their funk on, its even more disturbing when you glance at the white-haired skeleton leafing through the Playgirls . . .

and shudder.

Across from the counter in this half of the store was a doorway guarded by a black curtain. My initial impression of this doorway was that this must lead to the offices.

But I think I was wrong.

Over the course of the time we spent browsing, I watched several men go from the counter to then disappear behind the black curtain. I watched a couple of them solemnly reappear and make a hasty retreat out of the store when their business had been fully conducted behind the curtain.

I can only now surmise what was behind that curtain. I am sure you can, as well. And you probably don't need any suggestions.

Well, after a good 30 minutes of browsing, I was satisfied with my selection of Kerouac's The Subterraneans. My compadres had made their selections, as well. Genius Friend, on the other hand, ever vigilantly afflicted with a higher sense of conscience than the rest of us had, decided not to give any of his money to Ingrid.

For the rest of us, though, the paying and conversation with Ingrid sealed the "magic" of that evening.

After checking out--I was first as I'd thought I'd beat a retreat almost as quickly as Genius Friend--I discovered that Ingrid sold pipes on the used books side of the display case. So I returned to ask about them.

Ingrid, herself, was a very large woman. And when I say "very large" I mean as in Dr. Phil-I-Need-Help-With-My-Weight-Before-I-Die large. She sat poured over the sides of a metal swivel stool behind the glass counter and was as sweet and as charming as you could imagine.

Braveheart (whom I need to post about sometime), ever the conversationalist, struck up a discussion about Ingrid's bookstore and her chosen occupation. We commented on her great selection of books, and admired the pipes as I purchased one. Comments on her exhaustive supply of porn and objects of fetish delight were left unsaid, thankfully (Braveheart often lacked that "filter" most have), but we all were thinking it.

Then Braveheart asked about the competition--Christy's Toybox--which is actually a chain of adult novelty stores that you can find in Oklahoma and Texas and, I am sure, other states as well.

To this came a reply that I will never forget, and to this day it makes me smile when I think about it.

Ingrid, as sweet as can be, looked up at all of us and said . . .

"If you'uns want to go to the Dillard's of porn shops . . . Honey, you just go right ahead on over to Christy's. And you'll pay Dillard's prices too--for your pleasure. I guarantee . . .

"But darlin," she added without hesitation, "If you want a reasonable thrill at a reasonable price, well, that's Ingrid's. I run the Wal-Mart of porn. And I'm damned proud of it . . ."

We were just 18 growing up in what we took to be a know-nothing little town in the know-nothing little state of Oklahoma. It was either be creative with our time our collect our change and get our older friends to buy us alcohol . . .

We did plenty of both. But I look back and sincerely wish I would have spent more time appreciating the wealth of interesting characters that surrounded me growing up.

That must be the difference between a man like William Faulkner and myself . . . he was busy watching; we were too busy growing up.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Just a Thought

Civil Procedure is such a waste of a Law Student's time, no one remembers that crap anyways . . .

As 1Ls, our minds are still so full of mush that we--well, most of us--end up taking it all over again when we've "grown up" enough to really grasp what the hell law school is all about.

But then they've just renamed it:

Conflicts, Complex Litigation, Federal Courts . . .

They're all just different ways of reteaching all of the stuff we were supposed to have learned in Civil Procedure that they knew we wouldn't.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

A Post for Today

Copyright is done with. At least now I know what I can rip-off and what I can't.

Well, maybe I do . . . I guess we'll know for sure when the grades come back. To be on the safe side I won't start stealing from anyone until then.

Occasionally that urge to get into a fist fight surfaces in me for absolutely no reason at all, and I begin to walk with a little bit of a swagger and a hint of a sneer just daring some cocky college kid to smart off.

And then sometimes someone arouses the feeling in me . . .

Like today, when the Gunner stopped me in the parking lot. He asked me how I did. I commented on Prof's greatly underestimating the time it takes to finish an exam . . .

He tells me he had plenty of time, but there was this one issue where he just wrote . . . blah blah blah . . .

And, being the imbecile I was at that moment, I replied: "Oh, really? I said that impacted the Merger Doctrine more than anything else . . ."

Yes. Great.

He spent the next 5 minutes trying to argue with me.

I didn't punch him. I did what Gunner's hate worst of all:

I ignored him.

Monday, May 01, 2006

To Kill a Mockingbird II: Boo's Back

It came to my attention that on the same day the barricade was erected around the Demon Bird's lair, the flood lights in the law school parking lot stopped coming on at night. Apparently this occurred for about three straight nights . . .

On Thursday night, the day I first posted on this evil creature, I had gone up to the school to deliver some papers to the professor for whom I tutor. And as I slowly approached the barricade, two girls emerged from the black night . . .

"They've turned out the lights to appease the Bird," one law school betty commented as she nervously sipped from a cup of coffee.

"You think?" I asked.

"We know," the other chimed in. "It has been like this since they erected the barricade. They don't want to make him mad."

I chuckled. They responded with two very serious stares, as if to say shhh, he's listening.

Of course when I authored the last piece, it was predominantly tongue-in-cheek. How was I to know it was this serious???

I would have imagined the liability of the school for a few well-aimed pecks and lightly-bloodied scratches coming from our Malcontent Mockingbird would pale in comparison to the liability that would arise from a female law student being violently accosted in a pitch black parking lot.

But who am I to second-guess the judgment of the great decision-makers?

Perhaps I have underestimated the ferocity of this little beastly bird . . .

Saturday I again had occasion to go up to the school. And what I found was quite frightening. As I approached the area of our bad bird's bounty, my veins grew cold and I was suddenly stopped in my tracks . . .

What had once been a barricade meant to symbolize peace, was now violently overturned . . . with each post turned outward and the orange-and-white striped boards laying face down, still connected.

And atop the boards bounced two hurried pigeons pecking, pecking at the boards, as if to exlaim proudly the victory they had wrought.

This is war.

But I am not soon to find myself in the midst of an Alfred Hitchcock film. No, sir.

Isn't it the great public cry in these present times that diplomacy works best? Those those who are quickest to fight, are surest to lose? That we and our enemies can live in peace, and conflict need not be a zero-sum game??

I have discovered a sparrow is building a nest under the eave of my porch. And I am not about to drag my own house into this conflict; let the brave law students who tread their way up to school each day fend for themselves.

My wife and I have gone out and purchased a bird feeder, as an offering of peace. And more have come. I will go out and buy another today. I cannot keep up with their demands . . .

As I sit and carefully watch them watching me as they feed, I am reminded of a verse of Poe's:

And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted - nevermore!


You have greatly underestimated my ability to be a jerk.

At the age of 18, when I'd first moved to Houston, I immediately took up seeing this Catholic girl we'll call "Jennifer."

Jennifer was a sweet girl, but she had greatly overestimated her ability to manipulate men using her sex appeal, case in point . . .

We started sleeping together the night I was considerate enough to attend her confirmation being overseen by the local archdiocese. I guess that is an attractive thing to girls. That was also my first experience with the stand up, sit down, kneel, sit, kneel, stand, kneel, stand, sit routine . . . and I'm still talking about the church, of course.

Anyway . . .

So one day after we'd been seeing each other for about a month, she calls me from where she is working at Krogers and says:

"I told my co-workers how sweet and romantic you are, and I also told them you would be bringing me roses tonight at work."

"Whoa. Hold on! You told them I am bringing you roses? But I am broke, and I wasn't planning on going anywhere tonight."

"You heard me. I told them you were bringing me roses. If you don't you will look very, very bad. So you have too . . . "

So I get dressed and I run up to the Albertson's across the street from the Krogers where she works. I spend what was basically my last $20 to buy her some roses. And I took them to her.

And I smiled. And I handed her the roses.

But as I did, I leaned in and whispered--still smiling--"Now go screw yourself."

Then I shook her co-worker's hand and left.

To this day it may have been one of the best $20 bills I have ever spent.
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